Monday 19 November 2018

New wonder drug has saved my life - Vicky

Vicky Phelan pictured with WIT President Prof Willie Donnelly
Vicky Phelan pictured with WIT President Prof Willie Donnelly
Ralph Riegel

Ralph Riegel

Cervical cancer campaigner Vicky Phelan stressed that education saved her life as she revealed she had the courage to ignore the advice of her doctors and personally pursue the revolutionary trials drug which has now shrunk her tumours by 50pc.

The mother-of-two said that had she listened to her doctors and agreed to undergo palliative, aggressive chemotherapy, she most likely would not be alive today.

She was yesterday awarded an honorary fellowship at Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) where she has worked since 2006.

Ms Phelan used her acceptance speech to urge women to go for smear tests, to accept the HPV vaccination and have the courage to seek a second medical opinion if necessary.

"The medical professionals treating me for my cancer only offered me palliative chemotherapy which would give me 12 months at most," she said.

"By their calculations, I would dead before the end of the year. But, as a result of my own research and stubborn determination and perseverance I managed to get myself onto (a trial) for a new wonder drug called Pembrolizumab against all medical advice from my treating oncologists.

"I now have more than a 50pc shrinkage in my tumours and, most importantly, a quality of life that would not have been possible on palliative chemotherapy."

Her campaigning ensured that all the other 221 women impacted by the CervicalCheck "debacle" have now been granted access to the wonder drug.

Vicky said the WIT award was "a dream come true".

She received the award proudly watched by her husband, Jim, and children Amelia (13) and Darragh (7).

"We are very proud to call Vicky one of our own," WIT President Prof Willie Donnelly said.

Vicky is now on the revolutionary drug Pembrolizumab - and revealed her second round of scans revealed further tumour shrinkage.

Before she received the wonder drug, Vicky admitted she felt very unwell.

"I thought at the time I was going to die. I had been told I was terminally ill. Now, I feel good, I haven't lost my hair, my quality of life is good and I don't look like a cancer patient. I have no doubt that if I had taken their (doctors) advice back in January I would be dead now or on the way out. Chemotherapy would have only bought me until the end of the year."

Vicky urged women to go for smear tests and the HPV vaccine.

"I don't want any more women getting cancer. What happened to me was awful but I don't want it for anybody else. I have a 13 year old daughter and she has just had her HPV vaccine two weeks ago. I don't want her getting cervical cancer," she said.

"I was driven all along by the fact that, at the beginning, I thought that I was going to die. I don't think that is the case now - I hope not anyway. At least not for another while."

Irish Independent

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